Indie Shooter Alien Wasteland Hit With Cease And Desist By Wasteland 2 Devs

Indie Shooter Alien Wasteland Hit With Cease And Desist By Wasteland 2 Devs

Alien Wasteland is a rudimentary looking first-person-shooter made by a single person. It looks pretty darn different from Wasteland 2, the gritty strategy game from inXile Entertainment. Nonetheless, the developer behind Alien Wasteland was recently issued a cease and desist from the creators of Wasteland 2. Alien Wasteland's new name is Action Alien after nXile said it infringed upon their "Wasteland" trademark, developer Devdan said in a blog post.

"I have been calmly explaining through long emails why we should have no worries about this," said Devdan. "But I finally ended up receiving a cease and desist letter from their lawyer asking to either stop using 'wasteland' or to prepare facing legal actions against me."

Alien Wasteland has been in development for nearly two years, according to the game's Twitter account. Worried his game might be taken down from Steam or rack up expensive legal fees, Devdan chose to change the game's name, despite "a great loss in time and efforts for a very questionable complain [sic]".

The game's name is now officially called Action Alien on Steam.

Indie Shooter Alien Wasteland Hit With Cease And Desist By Wasteland 2 Devs

This is Wasteland 2. This is not Alien Wasteland. I repeat, this is NOT Alien Wasteland.

inXile confirmed discussions with Devdan on their official forums, and said the intention had been to find "an amicable solution without involving lawyers."

"The C&D [cease and desist] only happened because the developer was unwilling to recognise the issue," said associate producer Thomas Beekers, "only offering to change the game's name if we paid him for it. Asking to be paid for infringing on someone's rights is certainly a new one for us, so of course we refused."

This isn't the first time inXile has butted heads with another developer over the term "wasteland". In 2013, Vlambeer renamed its roguelike Wasteland Kings to Nuclear Throne, following concerns expressed by inXile. (In 2012, Wasteland 2 had been funded via Kickstarter, making Wasteland a known property again.)

"We've been through a lot of trouble with people riding on things of ours, and we understand that American trademark law is pretty strict in that not defending a trademark weakens it," said Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail in a blog post. "We realise that both games are set in a similar setting, that the names are similar and that InXile obviously felt the need to reach out. Although we aren't sure Wasteland Kings and Wasteland are confusing enough for this to be an issue, both us and InXile really don't want to spend development time on arguing over trivialities."

Ismail appreciated inXile reaching out and asking for a change prior to involving lawyers, which appears to have happened with this smaller developer, too.

With Alien Wasteland and Wasteland 2, however, it seems a stretch to argue there's all that much overlap. But that hasn't stopped silly legal posturing in the past. Remember how Bethesda told Mojang it couldn't call their collectible card strategy game Scrolls because it might cause confusion with Elder Scrolls?

Indie Shooter Alien Wasteland Hit With Cease And Desist By Wasteland 2 Devs

This is Scrolls. This is NOT Elder Scrolls. Also, this is NOT Wasteland 2. Furthermore, this is NOT Alien Wasteland.

That was ridiculous, too, but Mojang hired expensive lawyers to figure out a solution with Bethesda, which apparently involved them promising to not make a competitor to Elder Scrolls.

It sounds like Alien Wasteland had to drop the "wasteland", no questions.

"We always look for amicable win-win solutions in these cases," said Beekers of inXile, "where we seek to protect our mark as any prudent business would do, while also helping the other party promote their game and provide a bigger reach than he otherwise would get, so that both parties benefit. In fact, that offer still stands now."

The developer behind Alien Wasteland didn't respond to my request for comment.

"This is just one of the many headaches in game development," he wrote in a blog update.

It's hard to tell if the inXile folks are being more aggressive than necessary or simply reacting to the absurd lengths US law demands of companies, if they want to keep control over their trademarks. This comment from Kotaku reader AustralianPartyKid is pretty on point:

I’m a lawyer who has gotten trademarks, as well as sent out these types of letters. On the one hand, I am a little amazed the USPTO gave out a trademark for “Wasteland.” That’s pretty generic and I’m sure the word has been used in many video games in the past.

However, the reality is that if you don’t protect your trademark, you lose it, so if you become of anyone even possibly infringing on you, you have to send out one of these letters and you have to get them to stop using the trademark. It’s just the reality of the law.

Top: This is Alien Wasteland.


Comments

    This is ridiculous, can't wait until Bethesda send a C&D to, well, themselves, for infringing on the copyright as Fallout and Doom both have "4" in the title.

      Maybe this is why we have no half life 3 yet. How could valve possibly afford all the legal fees when there are quite a few games with the word "life" in them, I am sure there are a few with "half" in them.....don't even get me started on games with the number 3 in them

      I guess that means.....

      HALF LIFE 3 CONFIRMED

      also

      this is getting a bit silly now with all the copyright infringements etc, cant we all just get along ?

        Agreed, "scrolls" looks nothing like Skyrim, this looks nothing like Wasteland 2. It would be different if they stole assets from the game (be it actual assets, story characters or likeness).

        Was stupid enough with the whole "saga" saga between Banner and Crush.

    Man US law sucks. That "Wasteland" trademark sounds like it's more hassle for inXile than it's worth.

      The C&D letter wasn't their only option. If they thought there was nothing wrong with the "Alien Wasteland" name but wanted to make sure they didn't weaken their trademark, another option would have been to give/sell the indie developer a license to the trademark. At that point, the usage would no longer be infringing, and couldn't be used as evidence that inXile wasn't defending their trademark.

      They didn't do that though, so we can only assume that they really don't want other games to include that word in their title.

    There goes my plan for a new theme park called......(you guessed it)...... WASTELAND !

    guess I'll have to change my plans and open a bar instead, think I'll call it WASTEDLAND !

    or maybe release a breakfast cereal and call it WASTEBRAN ! or to avoid copyright I'll call it WAISTBRAN !

    I'll just show myself out

    No doubt they'll be going after Activision next to get them to stop selling Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. That game's name is clearly confusingly similar.

    "It's not our fault that trademarking an everyday word for our incredibly vague title clashes with other products!"

    wouldn't 'Alien' be the more recognisable trademark for them to infringe on than 'Wasteland'?

    I wonder when we'll get to a point where the game titles end up resembling their activation keys because something like K41x-l23Y-p7QR is the only sequence of characters which hasn't been claimed for prior usage.

      I am sorry, that name is too close to my new game K41x-l23Y-p7QS, I am going to have to ask you to retract your comment to avoid infringement.

    That's not a fucking amicable solution at all. And yeah, that's a hell of a stretch.

    Trademarking of common words, especially description and ubiquitous words is some serious bullshit.

    Lost a lot of respect for the Wasteland devs. The purpose of trademark is to stop other products from hitching their wagon to yours. It's very difficult to imagine that's what's happening here.

    yes when companies can trademark words in the common dictionary... the world today, pathetic.

    PS. I won't be buying another inXile game because, well their clearly dicks and don't deserve it!

    Last edited 04/05/16 8:00 pm

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